Continuing with more reviews from films playing at the 48th Chicago Film Festival… The two movies reviewed below are quite different, but they are definitely two stand-out picks at this year’s festival.
Gimme the Loot
Gimme the Loot is the most lighthearted film I’ve seen at CIFF yet and definitely one of my favorites. From director Adam Leon comes a story about two teen graffiti artists, Malcolm and Sofia, on a mission to tag the Met’s Home Run Apple. It’s never been accomplished, and doing it will gain Malcolm and Sofia the respect they want from rival gangs. Their mission takes place over two days in a hot New York City. They encounter and work with several individuals to try to get $500, which is the fee that Malcolm’s shady friend charges them to let them into the Mets’ stadium.
What completely work for Gimme the Loot are the two leads. They’re very likeable, and together they are so entertaining and funny. Malcolm is the goofball street kid that no one takes seriously. Sofia is the tough, sarcastic girl that takes shit from no one. Watching them together and apart, I became invested their characters and wanted to watch them succeed so badly.
The acting, at times, seems amateurish, and it was obviously working on a low budget. But the story is big on heart, that what really sells the film. I also like how the film lets the audience see a different part of New York that I haven’t seen in other NYC-set movies. The director takes us all over the Bronx, and the neighborhood becomes a character of its own.
Take a break from all the foreign (and kind of depressing) films at CIFF, and check out Gimme the Loot!
Rating: 7/10 ★★★★★★★
Gimme the Loot plays on Wednesday, October 17th and Thursday, October 18th at the Chicago International Film Festival. Buy tickets here!
Music. That is hands-down my favorite thing about the twisted and dark Simon Killer. Set in Paris, we follow Simon (Brady Corbet), who is trying to find a place to settle down. He recently broke up with his girlfriend and is sort of lost in the world. As we watch Simon spend more and more time in Paris, it becomes increasingly clear there is something menacing lying beneath his exterior.
I’ve seen Brady Corbet in a few films, most notably Martha Marcy May Marlene, and this is the first time that I paid attention to him (obviously since he is the lead). He does a great job playing a self-centered and quite unlikable character. For a good portion of the film, he plays opposite Mati Diop, who plays Victoria, a prostitute. The sex scenes between the two are harsh and perversely passionate. It speaks a lot about the characters and how they feel about themselves. In many ways, you can almost say it’s like an “American Psycho in Paris.” That all works for the film; however, Simon and his actions make it very hard to like. I can’t say that I liked the movie, but I can’t deny that I found it engaging.
Director Antonio Campos does a fine job directing the film; the cinematography is impressive. But even more impressive is the music. Simon Killer worked in its music fantastically. Listen to Spectral Display’s “It Takes a Muscle to Fall in Love,” which kind of serves as a theme for the movie. It has this upbeat, yet moodiness that completely fit the vibe of the film. Also, during a dance scene at a club, we see Simon dance to “Dance Yrself Clean” by LCD Soundsystem. The songs and score is just a beautiful mix of music, and one of the main reasons to check out this film.
Rating: 6.5/10 ★★★★★★☆
Simon Killer plays Saturday, October 20th and Sunday, October 21st at the Chicago International Film Festival. Buy tickets here!
A romantic comedy of sorts, Meeting Leila stars A Separation star Leila Hatami, who plays a woman trying to get her fiancé to quit smoking. The movie mostly revolves around her fiancé, an “ideas man,” who is a serious chain smoker. It also doesn’t help that smoking helps spur on his creativity, which is necessary since he works for an ad agency. He can’t afford to come up with bad ideas, but he doesn’t want to lose Leila. The film takes us through his often comedic struggle to finally quit smoking.
I was a little surprised how funny and sweet Meeting Leila is. It’s a rather simple story, but still very enjoyable. The humor laced throughout the movie was a definite plus. It also had its dramatic moments where Leila explains why she can’t stand smoking and when her fiancé tries to figure his debts before he gets married, while still trying to come up with creative ideas. The actors hit the right tone for this kind of story. It’s light and unassuming, unless you look harder for an allegorical subtext about Iran. The lovely Leila Hatami was great, although I wish she had a little more screen time. Adel Yaraghi played the fiancé well, and he did just as fine a job directing and co-writing the film.
Rating: 7.5/10 ★★★★★★★☆
Meeting Leila plays at the Chicago International Film Festival on Wednesday, October 17th and Saturday, October 20th. Buy tickets here!